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What Were the Biggest Advances in Life Sciences in 2020?

Posted on February 8th, 2021 by in Pharma R&D

As we settle into a new year, it’s always good to take a moment to consider what was accomplished in the previous one. That’s why we asked members of Elsevier’s Life Sciences team what they felt were among the most noteworthy advances in the life sciences in 2020.

Not surprisingly, the science around the coronavirus loomed large in their answers. Matthew Clark, Senior Director of Scientific Services for Elsevier R&D Solutions, stated simply that it was the “COVID-19 vaccines and treatments,” also noting that Elsevier offered a great deal of support in these endeavors by providing vital data.

Thibault Géoui, Senior Director of Discovery Biology & Predictive Risk Management, marveled at how “everyone in the life sciences came together to find a solution to COVID-19.” Tom Williams of Life Sciences Professionals Services also lauded the collaborative nature of the pharma and life sciences industry around COVID-19 and the development of therapeutics. “Through increased transparency and collaboration, several therapeutics are in clinical trials and one gaining emergency use authorization in several countries,” said Williams.

Géoui also emphasized the speed at which problems were tackled. “We broke the convention, we found shortcuts to the typical corporate process, and we made available resources to support the discovery of a treatment,” he said. “Elsevier made a number of contributions, starting with making some content available for free, but even more importantly by participating in real research projects and publishing scientific articles, thus contributing to the advancement of knowledge.”

Here on this blog we covered some of the research in real-time, with spotlights on everything from modeling coronavirus to vaccine development. Elsevier also created the Coronavirus Research Hub, providing open access to many Elsevier tools and content to help foster data sharing.

Despite the urgency and immediacy of the COVID-19 challenge, there were still important advances in other areas as well. Anton Yuryev, Director of Professional Services – Biology, reminded us of the slightly slower-moving but no less critical matter of climate change. He described “supporting LanzaTech in their synthetic biology effort to help save our planet from overheating” as one of Elsevier’s greatest accomplishments of 2020. 

The powerful utilization of AI in drug discovery also saw some groundbreaking developments this past year, and Elsevier was proud to be awarded Best Chemistry Predictive Analytics Specialists 2020 for our part in helping to create a predictive retrosynthesis solution. “We are so pleased that the Reaxys team has been recognized as a leader in innovation by the International Life Sciences Awards for our work in retrosynthesis,” said Ivan Krstic, Director of Chemistry Solutions, about the honor.

Keep looking to this blog throughout 2021 as we continue to share in greater depth about ongoing and new research projects and collaborations that Elsevier is working on in the life sciences space.

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